On Writing: Don’t Reinvent The Wheel (Yes, I’m talking to you, J.J.)

Greetings, Bearers,

First and foremost, I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas, and will have an excellent New Year.  I personally had a very good Christmas, although slightly more eventful than I prefer (stove fires and tempered glass breaking… I’m not kidding; I’ll have to tell you more about it later). God willing, New Year’s will be equally enjoyable for me without the unwanted surprises.

And even though the writing has been on hiatus this week (one of the drawbacks of big holidays), I assure you that I will be back on the ball shortly, as I miss sitting down and crafting stories. My goal is to have some good news and good writing ready for all of you in the upcoming year.

So with all that aside, let me get to the crux of this post.

On Christmas night, my family and I went to see The Rise of Skywalker, even though I really didn’t have any desire to do so (my dear extended family, not caring about canon as much as I and my wife and children do, were curious, much like people driving by a car wreck are curious and tend to rubberneck while slowing down…).  When the film ended, I walked out shaking my head for a few reasons.  To be fair, there were elements of this movie that were of significant improvement, particularly when compared to its predecessor, The Last Jedi.  But there were some serious problems as well, most of which I will not get into here simply because others have been more diligent and more crafty in articulating those problems (If you’d like some sources, let me recommend Thor Skywalker and the Overlord for starters).

But there’s an even more fundamental issue that all of these criticisms seem to keep overlooking, and it’s one that should have sent red flags up in the minds of Star Wars Fans the moment the dreaded Corporate Rodent stepped up to purchase Lucas’ wonderful contribution to science fiction and fantasy.  The first sign that should have sent people running and screaming from this exchange was that Disney threw out the established canon of the Expanded Universe.

There is a necessary degree of respect and abiding required when one is given permission to operate within the universe of any given epic tale.  Disregarding the canon established by years of hard working authors who produced stories faithful to, and embellishing respecfully upon, the rules and history of the given universe is an act of utter hubris.  It smacks of an arrogant despising, not only of the discarded tales, but also of the Epic itself.  In essence, it’s like buying a house and talking about how beautiful and timeless it is, all the while harboring the intention to burn it to the ground.

This alone is bad enough to think about, but what makes matters far worse is that J.J. Abrams (no, I won’t call him by his derogatory nickname, as deserving of it as he might be) wrote a story arc that was already covered in the Expanded Universe!  And I have to ask you, Mr. Abrams: Why?  Why did you essentially reinvent the wheel?

The whole arc that Abrams cobbled together (and woefully so for many reasons, including–but not limited to–Rian Johnson’s meddling work) was basically a poor retelling of the Legacy of the Force  arc, in which Jacen Solo essentially does what Abrams set up Ben Solo (Kylo Ren) to do.  Abrams did not have to throw out the canon; he could have preserved the canon, used the LotF arc for a base (no, he didn’t have to follow the books word-for-word or scene-for-scene, but he could have been reasonably faithful to it while making allowance for his own creativity) and came up with essentially the same story, which would have been a LOT better than the Frankenstein-patchwork mess that comprises this trilogy, and the last movie in particular.

In essence, sticking to the established canon would have given Abrams his story, told much better, because it would have kept with the rest of the established universe, and would not have delved into the mess he and Kathleen Kennedy (with her obsession on group identity politics) created.

Don’t reinvent the wheel, my friends.  Don’t disrespect the work of giants upon whose shoulders we stand.  People like Lucas, Tolkien, Martin, C.S. Lewis, and others have built worlds and stories that have earned a place in the mythos of their respective universes.  Nobody–NOBODY–has the right to undo that work.

If you want something done your way, create your own mythos, your own story, with your own original characters and plots.  If you work within somebody else’s mythos, you owe it to those original creators and their fans to stay faithful to what’s already been established. To do otherwise is to invalidate yourself as a fan in my opinion, and it also indicates your disrespect of other people’s intellectual property.

And that’s all for now, folks.  I think I might pull out the original trilogy and watch it in the next few days, as well as read some more EU books.

See you in the Vein!

J. Dean

Still alive.. AGAIN… I think

Greetings, Bearers,

My apologies for not getting back to you sooner.  I truly am waiting on some news that I hope to share with you.  It appears to be on hold for the moment, but as soon as I can I’ll let you know what’s going on. Promise.

As for what’s happening, I’m working simultaneously on two novels, and on the weekends (when I can), I’m assembling the Surrealities short story collection, which contains not only my actual Surrealities short stories from Smashwords, but also some new works that have not yet seen the light of day. My hope is to get a decent cover put together and make it available in paperback as well as by e-book format.  I’m finding that people still like to have the physical option for reading, so maybe ebooks aren’t going to put the printing press to pasture as quickly as people might believe.

And no, the world of the Vein is not dead.  Slow going, yes, but not dead.  There are still a couple of Bearers who have yet to make it to the Wood, past the Unseen One, and enter to start the final Prophecy.  They’ll get there eventually.

And, as always, for those of you who have recently made purchases of my works, Thank you! I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.  Contact me with any feedback you have!

Okay, back to work.  Keep reading, and I’ll keep writing.

See you in the Vein (and in any other works I’ve done)!

J. Dean

A quick update…

Greetings, Bearers!

1.) Yes, I did finish The Hobbit, and am now reading The Fellowship of the Ring (you should have seen the surprised looks people have given me when I’ve confessed to this failure on my part).

2.) I’m currently shopping around my finished novel, The Blood of the Rose, to see if I can get it published via official company (so far, my Beta readers have been very pleased with it, and I’m hoping that trend continues with others who see it!)

3.) I’m writing another novel which is completely science fiction.  So far, the working title is A Sunless Planet, but that may be subject to change (as you may already know, I’m quite finicky about titles)

4.) I’m also starting the outline and world building for another novel which is more along the lines of fantasy, though it’s more conventional fantasy than The Vein Series

5.) Yes, I’m still working on The Vein series :D, although it’s had to take a bit of a backseat for various reasons.  But don’t worry; it’s not off the table yet.

6.) I will soon be putting together another short story collection, with the working title of Surrealities and Other Tales, which will consist of my collection of Surrealities stories and also other stories which have not yet been released. I’m hoping to have this one readily available in paperback as well as ebook (and I also intend to get back to my ebook only releases and get them in paperback as well… someday 😉 ).

So it’s back to work for me shortly, but before I go, let me extend a heartfelt thank you to the new readers who have been perusing my titles.  Remember: if you like what you’ve read, please do me the honor of telling other people about it.

And another thank you to the loyalists out there who have stuck with me when I’ve been silent on social media!  I’m really working… promise…

Okay, enough chatter from me.  Spread the word!

See you in the Vein!

J. Dean

Meanwhile, on another fantasy-related note…

Greetings, Bearers!

I don’t know how many of you out there have an embarrassment that you’ve not yet revealed to the rest of the world, but if you have one and have not yet shared it, you have my sympathies.  Even now, as I write this blog entry in preparation of revealing my own embarrassment to you, I feel a bit of discomfort in doing so.  Not that I’ve done anything utterly horrid, mind you, but as somebody who loves the exercise of creative imagination in the direction of fantasy and science fiction, I seem to have been somebody who has not always practiced what he has preached regarding the urging on of others (particulary young people) to “take up and read,” as St. Augustine once heard children sing.

So, with all that being said, let me share my moment of embarrassment with you.

I have never read The Hobbit.

hobbit

For that matter, I’ve not even read The Lord of the Rings.  In fact, the only J.R.R. Tolkien book I’ve ever read is The Silmarillion (I know, odd bird I am). But I am working on amending my impenitence in the area.  See, I’ve begun reading The Hobbit now, and am thoroughly enjoying it!  I could kick myself for not starting it earlier, for reasons that are too numerous and scattered to enumerate in a single post, but the more I read Tolkien, the more I’m loving his work.  I was a bit worried that seeing the movies beforehand would ruin my enjoyment of the novel, but am pleased to say that no such corruption has befallen me.  If anything, I may rewatch the Hobbit Trilogy (or at least the first two, I’m still not sure I want to re-watch The Battle of the Five Armies at this point in time) just to do a fun little comparison.

And believe me, after reading Dicken’s A Tale of Two Cities, Tolkien is far lighter and far more conducive to the adventurous mind.  I mean no disrespect toward Charles D., but the plot surrounding Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay, interesting though it was, pales in comparison to the outright adventures of thirteen dwarves, a hobbit, a wizard, and perhaps the greatest piece of jewelry ever conceived in the mind of a literary master.

I have said before that all modern fantasy writing is merely a footnote to the work of Tolkien, and I am more persuaded than ever by that as I swam past the influenced waters of fantasy literature to reach one of the great sources of that wellspring of imagination.

So while I am writing, I am reading, and I am feeding my brain with the source material that nourished a great many other writers.  If I could meet Mr. Tolkien, I would heartily apologize for not booking my travel to Middle Earth far sooner in my life.  I truly, truly missed out on the greatest adventure for all those years.

But I am making amends, and the mending of this break has never been sweeter.

Just have to watch out for those Mirkwood spiders.

Okay, back to writing, and back to reading. I’m hoping to have news for all of you soon concerning works I have written.. and that it is indeed good news. In the meantime, I again extend a heartfelt thanks to those of you checking out my works for the first time. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I have enjoyed writing them!

They are, after all, “my preciousssssss….”

See you in the Vein!

J. Dean

Another word concerning the Game of Thrones series…

Greetings, Bearers!

First, a thank you to those who are new to my work! I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it! Drop me a line and tell me what you think!

Second, as per the title, here is a video which accurately sums up my thoughts about the final season of Game of Thrones

 

If anybody who sees this knows George R.R. Martin, let him know that I’m more driven than ever to read the series now, as I really want to see how he intends to resolve in a more cohesive manner what Benioff and Weiss sped through and ruined.

Okay, back to writing and other things… like shiskabob.

See you in the Vein!

J. Dean

Surrealities V Now Available on Smashwords!

Greetings, Bearers!

I am pleased to announce that Surrealities V is now available on smashwords.com for a price of your choosing!  Below is a brief description of the two stories included in this edition. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them!

See you in the Vein!

J. Dean

Surrealities, Part V

From the mind of storyteller J. Dean comes the “Surrealities,” short story series, a concept rooted in and inspired by weekly television serials such as The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery, and The Outer Limits, and classic radio serials such as Suspense, Dimension X, Lights Out, and other regular tales that take the imagination to the heights of exhilaration and the depths of fear.

In the Story “Man’s Last Night,” a hotshot video game player is challenged to a match where the stakes may be higher than he bargained for. Meanwhile, two competing parties converge together at the request of a brilliant scientist who has something both groups want in the tale “The Greater Good.”